Smartmatic says Fox News shouldn't have journalism protections in defamation lawsuit over election conspiracy theories

  • Smartmatic argued in a filing Monday that Fox News shouldn’t receive legal journalism protections.
  • Its defamation lawsuit alleges Fox News pushed damaging conspiracy theories about the company.
  • Fox News has moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Smartmatic Voting Systems argued in a court filing Monday that Fox News should not have legal protections normally given to journalists, arguing that its defamation lawsuit should move forward.

Smartmatic’s 137-page filing rejects Fox News’ defense that it was simply reporting on the dispute between the election technology company and conspiracy theorists who falsely said it played a role in rigging the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump.

It argues that Fox News anchors shouldn’t be protected by what’s called “neutral reporting privilege,” a legal doctrine that sometimes protects news organizations that publish accusations against public figures from libel lawsuits.

“The First Amendment does not give anyone, even news organizations, a free pass to defame a private company,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in a statement.

The filing is part of a $2.7 billion lawsuit Smartmatic filed in February in New York state court, alleging that Fox News waged a defamatory disinformation campaign when it pushed conspiracy theories about the ecompany. The media organization hosted Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two conspiracy theorist attorneys  who falsely argued the election was rigged and who are also defendants in the lawsuit. Several Fox News hosts also advanced the conspiracy theories on their own, Smartmatic said, and are individually named as defendants.

Fox News asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit later in February, arguing it simply offered “newsworthy information” to the public. The media organization also backtracked and aired interviews with experts affirming the legitimacy of the election following legal threats in December.

In a statement Tuesday, Fox News said Smartmatic’s new motion shows its lawsuit is “meritless.”

“The filing only confirms our view that the suit is meritless and FOX News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment,” a spokesperson said.

Fox News is also the subject of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion, a rival election technology company that conspiracy theorists said was secretly in cahoots with Smartmatic. Fox News has called that lawsuit meritless as well.

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